Bill Thomas

William Marshall Thomas (born December 6, 1941) is an American politician. He was a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1979 to 2007, finishing his tenure representing California's 22nd congressional district and as the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Bill Thomas
Bill Thomas, official photo portrait color.jpg
Member of the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees from Area 1
In office
September 8, 2016 – December 2018
Preceded byRick Wright
Succeeded byNan Gomez-Heitzeberg
Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byBill Archer
Succeeded byCharles Rangel
Chair of the House Administration Committee
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Preceded byCharlie Rose
Succeeded byBob Ney
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from California
In office
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 2007
Preceded byWilliam M. Ketchum
Succeeded byKevin McCarthy
Constituency18th district (1979–1983)
20th district (1983–1993)
21st district (1993–2003)
22nd district (2003–2007)
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 33rd district
In office
Preceded byErnest N. Mobley[1]
Succeeded byDon Rogers[2]
Personal details
Born (1941-12-06) December 6, 1941 (age 79)
Wallace, Idaho, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Sharon Thomas
ResidenceMorro Bay, California
Alma materSanta Ana College, San Francisco State University
OccupationProfessor, Politician

Early life and familyEdit

Thomas was born in Wallace, Idaho, moving with his parents to the Southern California area. He graduated from Garden Grove High School, attended Santa Ana College, earning an associate's degree before transferring to San Francisco State University, where he earned his bachelor's degree and master's degree in political science in 1963 and 1965, respectively. He became an instructor at Bakersfield College before running for and winning a seat in the California State Assembly in 1974. He won election to the House of Representatives in 1978, representing the 18th congressional district.

Thomas married the former Sharon Lynn Hamilton in 1968. They have two grown children. He and his wife are Baptists.[citation needed]


Thomas's official portrait

When Washingtonian magazine polled congressional aides on the "best and worst" of Congress, Thomas was voted #2 for "brainiest", #3 for "workhorse", and #1 for "meanest" and overwhelmingly for "hottest temper" in the House.[3] Thomas is known for being able to comprehend and communicate the intricacies of obscure legislative matters, studying testimony and research reports himself instead of relying on executive summaries from his aides. Thomas is also known for losing his temper when people are unprepared, earning a reputation for sharp interrogations. "He's revered, but he's also reviled to some degree", fellow representative Mark Foley told CQ Weekly.

Thomas was a key proponent of several of President George W. Bush's agenda items, including three major tax cut bills and the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (PL 108-173), and was also instrumental in the passage of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.

On March 6, 2006, Thomas announced he would not seek reelection, retiring after 28 years in the House. A major influence on his decision was the internal GOP term limits that would require him to relinquish his Ways and Means chairmanship even if he were re-elected.[citation needed] Thomas endorsed a former aide, Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy, who was elected to replace him.

In 2007, after leaving the House, Thomas joined the American Enterprise Institute as a visiting fellow working on tax policy, trade policy, and health care policy.[4] Thomas also joined law and lobbying firm Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney.[5]

On September 8, 2016, Thomas was named to the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees for Area 1, filling the seat of Rick Wright.[6][7] He did not run for reelection in 2018.[8] He was replaced by Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg.[9]

Election historyEdit

Bill Thomas congratulating President George W. Bush shortly after signing the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003
Bill Thomas with Vice President Dick Cheney at a Town Hall meeting on Social Security in 2005
  • 1974 – Defeated Raymond Gonzales – 54–46%
  • 1976 – Defeated Stephen W. Schilling – 57–43%
  • 1978 – Defeated Bob Sogge – 59–41%
  • 1980 – Defeated Mary Pat Timmermans – 71–29%
  • 1982 – Defeated Robert J. Bethea – 68–32%
  • 1984 – Defeated Michael T. LeSage – 71–29%
  • 1986 – Defeated Jules H. Moquin – 73–27%
  • 1988 – Defeated Lita Reid – 71–27%
  • 1990 – Defeated Michael Thomas – 60–34%
  • 1992 – Defeated Deborah Vollmer – 65–35%
  • 1994 – Defeated John Evans – 69–28%
  • 1996 – Defeated Deborah Vollmer – 66–27%
  • 1998 – Defeated John Evans – 79–21%
  • 2000 – Defeated Pete Martinez – 72–25%
  • 2002 – Defeated Jaime Corvera – 73–24%
  • 2004 – Unopposed

Congressional committeesEdit

1992: Congressional banking scandalEdit

In the 1992 Rubbergate banking scandal, involving House members writing checks when the funds were not available, Bill Thomas bounced 119 checks, the tenth-highest amount for a Republican member of Congress.[10][unreliable source?].

2001: alleged affair with lobbyistEdit

The Bakersfield Californian published an article on Thomas about an affair with Deborah Steelman,[11] a lobbyist for Cigna, Pfizer, Aetna, United Healthcare Corporation, the Healthcare Leadership Council, and Prudential. Thomas was then chair of the House subcommittee that regulates HMOs. "Any personal failures of commitment or responsibility to my wife, family or friends are just that, personal," the former congressman wrote in an "open letter to friends and neighbors." Neither he nor Deborah Steelman explicitly denied the allegations. Deborah Steelman was promoted to VP of Eli Lilly, a position which she used to steer huge campaign gifts to Thomas's war chest[citation needed] and the health care industry scored big with the passage of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.[citation needed]

2003: controversy involving U.S. Capitol policeEdit

In July 2003, Thomas called the U.S. Capitol Police to eject Democrats from a meeting room. A few days later, he tearfully apologized on the House floor for what he called his "just plain stupid" decision to ask the police to eject the Congressmen.[12][13]


  1. ^ "Our Campaigns - CA State Assembly 33 Race - Nov 05, 1974". Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  2. ^ "Our Campaigns - CA State Assembly 33 Race - Nov 02, 1976". Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  3. ^ "Calendar of Events (". Archived from the original on May 18, 2008. Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  4. ^ American Enterprise Institute, "Former Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas Joins AEI," news release, February 13, 2007. Archived March 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, "Former Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas Joins Buchanan," news release, May 2, 2007. Archived July 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^, HAROLD PIERCE. "KCCD poised to appoint longtime congressman Bill Thomas to board". The Bakersfield Californian. Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  7. ^ "Board Members | Kern Community College District". Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  8. ^, JOSEPH LUIZ. "Two seats up for grabs in Kern Community College District race". The Bakersfield Californian. Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  9. ^ Californian, The Bakersfield. "SCHOOLS ROUNDUP: Retired teachers win Kern High School District races". The Bakersfield Californian. Retrieved Aug 26, 2019.
  10. ^ "Republicans in Rubbergate". Sep 4, 1992. Retrieved Aug 26, 2019 – via Flickr.
  11. ^ "Patrick Kennedy". Retrieved 2002-10-01.[dead link]
  12. ^ Novak, Robert (2003-07-24). "Thomas's 'police state'". Retrieved 2006-12-30.
  13. ^ "Tears From the Gruff Chairman". The New York Times. 2006-07-26. Retrieved 2006-12-30.[permanent dead link]

External linksEdit

California Assembly
Preceded by
Ernest N. Mobley
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 33rd district

Succeeded by
Don Rogers
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
William M. Ketchum
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 18th congressional district

Succeeded by
Richard H. Lehman
Preceded by
Barry Goldwater, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 20th congressional district

Succeeded by
Calvin M. Dooley
Preceded by
Elton Gallegly
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 21st congressional district

Succeeded by
Devin Nunes
Preceded by
Lois Capps
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 22nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Kevin McCarthy
Political offices
Preceded by
Charlie Rose
North Carolina
Chairman of House Administration Committee
Succeeded by
Bob Ney
Preceded by
Bill Archer
Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee
Succeeded by
Charles Rangel
New York